Hanging curtains

There are so many styles of decorative curtain tracks and poles now available, choosing one can be almost as time-consuming as choosing your style and colour of curtains! Choose a pole when you're happy to have it seen; choose a curtain track if you would rather have it hidden.

Hanging curtains

Top tip

  • Ideally, have your curtain track or pole in position before you measure up for your curtains.

Choosing a track or pole
Make sure you pick a track or pole that's suitable for attaching to your wall, is right for the window shape and appropriate for your curtains.

Consider the weight of the curtains you intend to hang. Buy a thicker pole for heavier drapes, and if you're going for tracks, metal tracks tend to be sturdier than plastic ones. Curtain poles can only be used for straight windows, and are made of wood, metal or plastic.

Tracks and poles come in varying lengths, but if you can't get the size you want, buy bigger than you need and saw off any excess length.

Look at your curtains: curtains with heading tape (pleated, gathered etc.) can attach by hooks to a track or to rings on a pole. If your track is going to be hidden by the curtains or a pelmet then you can be less concerned about the bulkiness of the track. Many tracks come fitted with a cord to make opening and closing the curtains simple.

Curtains like tabtop and eyelet curtains need to run on a pole. Because the pole will be on display as much as the curtains, choose a pole you are happy to have seen. There are loads of decorative designs now available.

Tip: You can now buy curtain rings that just clip onto the curtain material, doing away with the need for sewing altogether.

Optional fittings
If you have a bulky sill or surround on your window, you can buy fixed or adjustable extension brackets for tracks to hold them out from the wall and allow the curtains to run more freely.

If you have a net curtain as well as a main curtain, you can buy a bracket that will hold two tracks simultaneously, making it easy to adjust the curtain positions.

If you have a valance, fit a clip-on bracket that attaches to the main rail and carries the rail for the valance. This helps hold it in place.

Hanging and draping
Take the time to arrange the pleats of your curtains evenly before you hang them as this will help them drape well and look their best.

For curtains with headed tape, fit a hook every 7.5cm (3 in) across the top. Start with one of the inner edges and slip the hooks onto the gliders or rings of the track or pole - always fit the hook of the outer edge to the fixed ring on the end of the track to ensure that the curtain stays in place. Curtains like tap top or eyelet curtains will need to be threaded directly onto the pole.

Most tracks should have end-stops or finials that stop the gliders or hooks from falling off the end of the track.

Tip: If you will need to open and close the window a lot, choose a simple corded track for trouble-free opening.

Putting up a track or pole
Curtain tracks and poles come with brackets to hold them in place that can be screwed to either the wall or the ceiling, although you can get tracks without brackets that screw on directly. These are good if your track is going to be visible. Unless the window is very large, you usually only need to attach brackets at the ends.

Make sure you are screwing the track or pole into sound ceiling joists timbers or wall plugs. Place the track or pole at least 5cm (2in) above the window frame to make sure it's not too near the brick or wood beneath the plaster. You may need to use winged plugs on plasterboard.

If the screws that come with the track or pole are not long enough to make the fittings secure, replace them. If you are hanging curtains like eyelet or tabtop curtains that need to be threaded directly onto the pole, either fix a detachable pole or don't fit the pole until the curtains are ready to be put up.

Tip: Make sure your track or pole extends far enough beyond the window sides to allow the curtains to draw clear of the window panes and allow in as much light as possible.

Curtain hooks and rings
A track will often come with its own glider hooks, otherwise you will have to buy hooks at the same time as the pole or track.

If your curtains have heading tape (see Making Pleated Curtains) check to see if they require a certain type of hook. Hooks with a double bend to hold them securely in the pleats usually fit most types of tape.

If your curtains have no ready-made pockets for hooks - hand-pleated headings for example - then you will need to sew pin-on hooks or brass hooks on by hand. For curtain rods, you can sew small brass or plastic rings on by hand.